like a fine fall day to
explore local railway
history and archaeology. Three CRHA Kingston Division members, George
Bill Thomson and I, David Page, set off on Wednesday 07 October 2009 to
what they could find of the Bay of Quinte Railway(BQR) line from Yarker
to Tweed (see brief history of the
BQR at the end of this
article). This section of the BQR would be of most interest to
members because it was part of Kingston-Tweed connection providing
service by successor CNR until 1925, and not abandoned until 1941.
George had seen some of the features
of the line some 20
years ago, and spent part of his childhood in Tweed.
His guidance, along with old topographical maps showing the abandoned
enabled us three to spot and record the incredible amount of physical
archaeology still visible nearly 70 years after railway operations had
We started our search in Yarker, at Sidings St.,
and walked across the CNoR
“new bridge”, now part of a railway trail. From this bridge, on the
one can see an abutment in the Napanee River
from the original
BQR line to Harrowsmith and Sydenham. This lines up with stonework just
in the brush alongside County Road (CR) #6, northbound, at the edge of
of Yarker. The
BQR old bridge track was one
leg of the mainline wye at Yarker, the other two heading north to Enterprise, Tamworth and Tweed,
and west to Napanee.
BQR bridge abutment at Yarker.
Next stop on the way north on CR#6,
we wanted to see if
the old topo maps were correct in showing the BQR alignment touching
roadway at the bridge over the Napanee River at its source, Camden
enough it did not take long to spot railway-type stonework adjacent to
current road bridge, with a short stretch of telltale gravel pathway
to it. Carrying on to the village
of Enterprise, we
the station platform in a field just off West St., south of the main
station itself has been gone for some time.
The BQR high-level bridge over the
current CPR Belleville
sub was made necessary by the latter’s construction in 1913. It and its
are situated just NW of Enterprise, and are a well-known artefact of
The closest access to this site is at a dirt road level crossing of the
about ¼ mile to the east. The south abutment of the abandoned
bridge is just
visible from the CP crossing. We walked to the site and were interested
that the abutments were of concrete and were badly eroded by time and
elements. In addition the south abutment is about six feet below the
meaning that there must have been a steel or other footing in place to
this gap and support the bridge span. The gap on the north side is even
greater, perhaps 12 feet. A photo taken in 1958 in “Lost Horizons”
same relative heights, but without all the brush that has grown up in a
BQR bridge abutments at CP Belleville sub
Continuing on CR nos. 14 and 4 we
enter Tamworth from the
south, alongside the Salmon River.
and landscaping have obliterated all signs of the BQR right-of way
line swept up to the northwest and crossed the river. Once in Tamworth,
we made a hard left at the main intersection and went down Concession St. South. About a ¼ mi along, there was the
alarming pink(probably faded red) on the left, with a large,
railway-style “TAMWORTH” sign
prominently displayed. The station is the
standard BQR design, with a two-storey main section with a full-height
window, extending into a single-storey freight/express shed at one end.
building has become a house and still has the railway right of way
Tamworth station, Bill Thomson in
foreground, George Dillon further back.
Next on CR #4 and Hy 41 to
Erinsville, pleasantly situated
station is very easy to spot:
it is in the lakefront park and has been white-washed completely. It is
occupied. The railway r-o-w is visible as it curves past the station
and off to
A further 8 km along CR #13 brought
us to Marlbank, a
former high-quality portland cement mining site and important customer
BQR. The station in Marlbank, in the SW corner of the village, is now a
cared-for house, still with platform and baggage extension in place.
told us it is in good condition despite having been built in 1880s. The
r-o-w is also well maintained, and is technically walkable back to
although farmers have erected gates along the way to deter ATV
have damaged property.
Marlbank station, with r-o-w (and Bill
Thomson) in foreground.
Dave Page photo
On up Marlbank Rd toward Tweed
we nearly zoomed on past Stoco station well hidden by trees, on the
past the (Moira) East Channel bridge (the present road is on the
r-o-w). This station, too, is a
well-maintained house, of the same BQR standard design, but reversed,
baggage section on the left. The owner told us that hers was the only
that still had the original room configuration inside.
The last destination was Tweed
itself. There is very little visible evidence of Tweed’s railway
except for the CP Havelock sub railway trail at each end of River St.,
sturdy CP plate-girder, two-span bridge over the Moira at the east end.
sub bridge at Tweed.
Sign on right refers to chipmunks, not railway history! George Dillon
Dave Page photo
BQR artefact left: well hidden, and, had George not remembered its
certainly would have been missed. The two-stall BQR enginehouse has
incorporated into a much-larger lumber warehouse, essentially intact.
fortune the main door of the warehouse was open and we could see the
enginehouse clearly. Its stone (or early concrete block) walls and
are all visible and quite impressive. What a find!
The site is located in the SW corner of Tweed, just where the CPR and BQR crossed River St..
The Tweed map in “Lost Horizons”
identifies the enginehouse
as legend item no.3.
two-stall enginehouse at Tweed,
lumber warehouse. Note stone wall and steel trusses centre left, rear.
the sudden rain squall!
Bill Thomson photo
After a brief Timmie’s lunch we headed back home,
satisfied that it had been a good day of exploration and discovery. It
bad that none of the heritage artefacts that we saw are identified for
to enjoy as well.
Brief History of
of Quinte Railway(BQR)
The BQR was a
creation of the Rathbun family business empire centred in Deseronto ON.
The Rathbuns needed transportation services for their many industrial
including cement, mining, lumbering and manufacturing, and so
BQR and a steamship company to fill this need. The BQR’s first line was
connection to the GTR at Deseronto Jct., and this was opened shortly
incorporation in 1881. With the Napanee, Tamworth and Quebec Rly.
under BQR control, lines from
Napanee to Yarker and Tamworth were opened in 1884, and in 1889 on to Tweed and also east to Harrowsmith. The latter
connection with the K&P, and, in turn, resulted in running rights
expansions of the BQR included Napanee to Deseronto direct, on
Tweed to Bannockburn,
and eastward to Sydenham. This filled out the extent of this small
railway. Decline of the Rathbun empire began in the first decade of the
century and with it, the BQR. In 1914 it became part of the CNoR who
building their ill-fated transcontinental line through some of the same
territory. The BQR “network” unraveled as quickly as it had been built,
the original Deseronto Jct line being abandoned in
1906, and passenger service from Tweed to Kingston
ceasing in 1925.
The Tweed to Bannockburn
section was abandoned in the same year. Tweed to Yarker section was closed by then-owner
1941. The final piece of the BQR, Deseronto to Napanee, was abandoned
Other than the
remaining archaeology described in the main article above, BQR
still visible in the form of station buildings, bridge abutments and
embankments, scattered from Sydenham to Deseronto.
15 October 2009